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B'More Green An environmental blog for everyday living
Falcon webcam renews city's connection to speedy birds of prey

On one end of the southern ledge of a downtown skyscraper's 33rd floor, there is death — bloodstains, a mess of feathers, the head of a small songbird or woodpecker.

But nearby is life — two peregrine falcons taking turns incubating brown speckled eggs, every so often rolling them around with the same yellow and black beaks that rip apart pigeons and sparrows.

The trials and triumphs of the nest's past inhabitants were long the subject of news articles. In 1992, a fledgling falcon died during a summer thunderstorm; the next year, another wayward youth was rescued from a nearby rooftop, according to The Baltimore Sun's archives. But since the late 1990s, downtown's fast-flying birds of prey have lived in obscurity to most, save a few business executives.

That changed when a webcam launched last month, giving the falcons their own reality show of sorts — complete with the intrigue of a love triangle, possible murder and, soon, new birth.

Since the camera launched at the Transamerica tower...

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Sierra Club, doctors to sue Hogan on power plant pollution

The Sierra Club and a doctors group said Wednesday that they plan to sue Gov. Larry Hogan's administration for failing to enforce regulations that compel power plants to limit smog pollution.

The groups submitted a 30-day notice of their intent to file a lawsuit Wednesday, demanding that the Republican governor put into place clean-air protections adopted in the final days of the administration of Gov. Martin O'Malley, a Democrat.

In his own anti-smog plan released Friday, Hogan required that the state's coal plant operators minimize emissions during the summer smog season, which begins next month, but his administration agreed to reconsider what coal-burning facilities would be required to do over the next five years to reduce harmful emissions even more.

"The safeguards that Hogan is trying to gut say simply, 'If you're going to burn coal in Maryland, you need to install and run modern pollution controls by the end of the decade for the sake of our health,'" said Josh Tulkin, executive...

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NSA shows off pro-recycling mascot for Earth Day, gets lampooned in return

This Earth Day won't you spare a thought for Dunk? He's a big blue bin that the National Security Agency is using to encourage kids to recycle, and people aren't being very nice to him on the Internet.

Since the NSA tweeted about Dunk earlier this week, people have called him "disconcerting," "creepy" and even "nightmarish." Someone created a twitter account for him suggesting that he's been pressed into service because the agency took his children. (The rest of the posts are too rude to repeat.)

Perhaps it's the bright blue skin that has put people off. Or maybe the slightly forced-looking grin.

But all Dunk wants, according to an NSA video, is to get Maryland children to boost their schools' recycling efforts.

Admittedly, the mission could be a little bit disgusting. Dunk wants students to "dig through all of the trash in your school and then you're going to analyze it." From there, they can use a little bit of math and work out what else their school can recycle rather than sending...

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Water Wheel scoops 19 tons of Inner Harbor trash in one day

The Inner Harbor Water Wheel, the solar- and water-powered contraption that removes trash and debris from Baltimore's waterfront, collected a record 19 tons of waste on Monday, officials said.

The Waterfront Partnership last spring launched the Water Wheel recognizable by a trash collecting device that resembles a steamboat paddle wheel. The device is turned by the Jones Falls River current as it scoops up trash and debris that is placed onto a conveyor belt and poured into a dumpster barge.

The barge then hauls away the trash and another dumpster is put in its place. Solar panels provide additional power, officials said.

The Water Wheel has quite a following. A YouTube video on the contraption posted last may has more than one million hits.

On Monday, the Water Wheel filled six-and-a-half dumpsters with 19 tons of trash following the season's first major rain storm, officials said. The 19 tons of trash and debris eclipses the old mark of 11 tons set on May 16 of last year, officials said.


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Howard students analyze county watersheds in yearlong study

Some Howard County schoolyards may have an issue with dumpster juice, but county students have the solution.

During an hour-long Watershed Summit at the Howard County Conservancy in Woodstock, students presented their Watershed Report Card — the culmination of a yearlong research project, in which 800 students from across the county assessed area schoolyards, streams and watersheds.

Ninth and tenth graders from every high school either evaluated how their school handled stormwater runoff and other issues, such as dumpster juice — fluids leaking from trash bins that flow into storm drains — or the health of county streams and watersheds and how that impacts the health of the Chesapeake Bay.

Overall, students graded county schoolyards with a B, pointing out low nutrient levels and invasive plant species bordering schools, but added native plant gardens help slow the flow.

Students gave Howard County streams a C+ health grade, citing a wide diversity of organisms found, but adding that the...

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Earth Day 2.0 is about more than benefits of recycling

Forty-five years ago today, the first-ever Earth Day was held around the world. It focused on educating people about the simple things they could do at home to help lighten their footprint on the local environment.

Today, people understand that they should recycle plastic and turn off the lights when they leave home or go to bed, some local environmentalists say.

So the Benjamin Banneker Historical Park and Museum is looking to give them the next level of environmental responsibility.

"I like to think, as a society, we know the right thing to do on a lot of fronts and we're still trying to figure out the right thing to do on a lot of other fronts," said Krisztian Varsa, a regional watershed restoration specialist at the University of Maryland Extension Office. "Now we're asking people to kind of take that next step."

Varsa will be among those at information tables during the museum's Earth Day celebration on April 25 that will feature activities and presentations for all ages.

The historical...

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